VIDEO: York High forward Marquise McClean discusses his 21-point performance and the Bearcats' fast start after their blowout win over Central York. JACOB CALVIN MEYER, 717-505-5406/@jcalvinmeyer
After York High’s road loss to New Oxford last Friday night, head coach Clovis Gallon Sr. said his players weren’t as disappointed as one might assume after the team’s first loss of the season.
In fact, they're a little relieved.
“Nobody ever wants to lose a game,” Gallon Sr. said. “Going forward, that loss popped a bubble. It relieved the pressure. Seeing the social media post every week about being ranked No. 1 in the state (in Class 5-A), that makes you the target for everyone and the opponent feels like they have nothing to lose. For us, walking away from that game, it was almost like we got that loss behind us.”
Second-half comeback: In the Bearcats’ 79-73 loss to New Oxford, Gallon Sr. said the Bearcats’ slow start and excellent play by the Colonials led to the 32-10 second-quarter deficit.
“I don’t think for one second that we were overconfident,” he said. “New Oxford played a phenomenal game. They stuck to their game plan and didn’t waver, even when we pressed and got back into the game.”
What gave the Bearcats confidence following the game, Gallon Sr. said, was how the squad roared back in the second half. Behind Clovis Gallon Jr.’s 30-point second half, York High (11-1) ended up briefly taking the lead before the Colonials’ 3-point shooting and efficient free-throw shooting put New Oxford on top.
“Games like that build character," Gallon Sr. said. “Being down 22 points against a very good New Oxford team (10-3) that shoots very well, and we still came back. That was a confidence builder on what we can overcome. I was extremely proud of how we responded in the second half.”
Specifically, Gallon Sr. was happy with the team’s full-court press defense that forced several turnovers and led to offense for the Bearcats.
“We knew being down 20 points that we’d have to take some risks,” he said. “We sped the pace of the game up where our conditioning took over and we rattled them and got some turnovers. We feel like if we turn the game into a track meet like that, it’s in our favor.”
Saturday's victory: Even if the Bearcats were wallowing following the loss, they didn’t have much time to do so. They played a road game at Bayard Rustin in West Chester on Saturday, earning a 71-65 victory over the preseason top 10 Class 5-A team.
“When you come off a loss, the best thing is to play the next day,” Gallon Sr. said
Gallon Sr. said the Bearcats carried the defensive intensity into the game against Bayard Rustin (8-5), which has four starters at 6 feet, 4 inches or taller. Gallon Jr. and Marquise McClean both scored 23 points in the triumph.
“It was a huge victory for us,” Gallon Sr. said. “Rustin is a big team. They tried to punch the ball inside, and they had a quick guard who could shoot. After the loss to New Oxford, it was a big win.”
Gallon Jr.’s big night: Another positive from the New Oxford loss is the way Gallon Jr. stepped up for the Bearcats when they were down in the second half. He scored a career-high 41 points on 12 of 24 shooting, nailed 4 of 10 3-pointers and made 13 of 14 free throws. The performance was the first time a York High player scored more than 40 points in a game since Kelvin Parker scored 43 to go over 1,000 career points against Spring Grove in 2011.
“Being down 22 points, he said it was time to turn the switch on and be a playmaker, and he did that,” Gallon Sr. said. “I figured he had a game or two like that within him this season. Going forward, I expect him to play with that level of recklessness. Hopefully he does that the rest of the season.”
Goals still intact: The Bearcats won’t go undefeated this season, but they knew that before the season started.
Before the 2018-19 campaign, Gallon Sr. said winning a D-I title, a York-Adams League tournament championship and competing for District 3 and PIAA titles were all in reach. The Bearcats will end their regular season on Feb. 1 at home against New Oxford, and it’s quite possible that game will determine who wins the D-I crown. The teams are now tied for first place in D-I at 6-1.
“Our goal is to build ourselves up to make a huge playoff run,” Gallon Sr. said. “Sitting at 11-1, we had our best start since 2009. We think we have all the parts to make a deep playoff run at all three levels. We’re excited about that.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.